Monday, January 12, 2009

The A, B, C's of Reality: Creation, Sin, and Salvation

Finding a way to express the truth of what I am is not that difficult; coming into the awareness of that truth is another thing. The fact is that I am as God created me, but I wandered into the temptation of thinking I could do it my way, separating from God, wandering in the wilderness, longing for home, and, finally, fell to my knees and asked for help to become aware of my true Self, praying for my salvation, and coming home at last.

So, that is a one-sentence expression, and what follows leads me into the awareness that I am as God created me.

A. Creation

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Genesis 1:26

This passage from the Urtext helps me understand what it means to say that I am in the image and likeness of God.

"God created man in his own image and likeness" is correct in meaning, but the words are open to considerable misinterpretation. This is avoided, however, if "image" is understood to mean "thought," and "likeness" is taken as "of a like quality." God DID create the Son in His own Thought, and of a quality like to His own. There IS nothing else. (URTEXT, The Original Unexpurgated Manuscript As It Emanated From The Mind And Heart Of Jesus Christ of Nazareth), p. 72

The original name for "thought" and "word" was the same. The quotation should read "In the beginning was the thought, and the thought was with God, and the thought WAS God." How beautiful indeed are the thoughts of God, who live in His light. Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. (p. 73)

As early as Lesson 16, I have no neutral thoughts, Jesus introduces the terms create and likeness.

Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak. They are merely true or false. Those that are true create their own likeness. Those that are false make theirs.

We are always either making up false thoughts, or creating true thoughts.

In my mind, buried under layers of ego-thoughts, is the Thought of God. It is a state of mind, eternal, instantly available to my awareness, the moment my awareness shifts away from its preoccupation with ego-thoughts.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27

And Jesus expresses it this way in His Course in Miracles.

Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts,
in number infinite, and everywhere

without all limit. Only Love creates,
and only like Itself. There was no time
when all that It created was not there.
Nor will there be a time when anything
that It created suffers any loss.
Forever and forever are God's Thoughts
exactly as they were and as they are,
unchanged through time and after time is done.

God's Thoughts are given all the power that

their own Creator has. For He would add

to Love by its extension. Thus His Son
shares in creation, and must therefore share
in power to create. What God has willed
to be forever one will still be one
when time is over; and will not be changed
throughout the course of time, remaining as
it was before the thought of time began.
W-pII. II. What is Creation? 1, 2

In my mind are God's Thoughts, extensions of His Love, Heaven.

I am God's Son, complete and healed and whole,
shining in the reflection of His Love.

In me is His creation sanctified
and guaranteed eternal life. In me
is love perfected, fear impossible,
and joy established without opposite.
I am the holy home of God Himself.
I am the Heaven where His Love resides.
I am His holy Sinlessness Itself,
for in my purity abides His Own.
W-pII. 14 What am I? 1

This is an attempt to represent, graphically, the fact that we are God's Creation, simply His extension. And the color yellow seems to represent, naturally, the fact that we are light, that we are the light of the world that we are an extension of God. To represent this graphically, the star should be exactly the same color as that from which it extends, but to see the outline of the star it was necessary to introduce the white shading.

The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come.

As the ideas for this essay took shape, I began to think of shooting stars streaking across the sky. I imagined all shooting stars as emanating from the same planet, all of the same substance, and it was easy to see Creation as an analogy, the stars and the planet, and man and God. We are all One.
In addition, I found myself asterisking the passage about the star of Christmas and most of the passages that follow to remind myself to use them in writing this essay. The root mean of asterisk * comes from the Greek, asterikos, meaning "little star."

Also, in respect to the "star" in today's lesson (Lesson 14, God did not create a meaningless world) Jesus uses this example in the exercise:

God did not create that disaster (specify), and so it is not real.

In each case, name the disaster" quite specifically.

"Disaster" means "ill-starred," coming for the Italian dis, "away" plus astro, "star." The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet. (But we know that a disaster is, in fact, the result of an unfavorable position of our ego-mind.)

B. What is Sin?

Unfortunately, I made my own life a disaster by striking off on my own, pursuing my own thoughts, making up a world of sights and sounds and touch and smell and taste. I found myself looking in my mind and watching an oddly assorted procession going by (Lesson 10) and thinking that this procession of thought-images was true, all the time eating from the tree of knowledge.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16,17

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. Genesis 3:4

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat. Genesis 3:6

When my awareness shifts from the Thoughts of God, the tree of life, to the thought-images in my mind, the tree of knowledge, I separate from God, replacing truth with illusions. This separation is sin.

Sin is insanity. It is the means
by which the mind is driven mad, and seeks

to let illusions take the place of truth.
And being mad, it sees illusions where
the truth should be, and where it really is.
Sin gave the body eyes, for what is there
the sinless would behold? What need have they
of sights or sounds or touch? What would they hear
or reach to grasp? What would they sense at all?
To sense is not to know. And truth can be

but filled with knowledge, and with nothing else.
W-p11. 12 What is Sin? 1

Through the centuries, "sin" has become a loaded word. From the Aramaic, it is, in fact, an archer's term, simply meaning "off the mark." My arrow, my awareness, simply misses the target, and I am off the mark. Jesus expresses this shift in awareness as a tiny, mad idea.

Into eternity, where all is one,
there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which
the Son of God remembered not to laugh.
In his forgetting did the thought become
a serious idea, and possible
of both accomplishment and real effects.
Together, we can laugh them both away,
and understand that time cannot intrude
upon eternity. It is a joke
to think that time can come to circumvent
eternity, which means there is no time.


As early as Lesson 4 in His mind-training manual, Jesus teaches us that These thoughts do not meaning anything.

The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything because I am trying to think without God. What I call "my" thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.

In each life, I see the separation occurring as a child begins to acquire language. When the child begins naming objects, s/he separates by shifting his/her awareness from God to man, from unity to separation.

You live by symbols. You have made up names
for everything you see. Each one becomes
a separate entity, identified
by its own name. By this you carve it out of unity.


I am reminded of the story of the little girl who went into the bedroom to see her new-born sister in the crib and stared into her eyes. Her mother asked her what she was doing, and she said, "I am looking into her eyes because I know they last looked on God."

This is an attempt to represent, graphically, the separation.

The dark lines forming the borders represent how our awareness of our insane thought-images seem to separate us from God. The borders form an imaginary prison. There are only the Thoughts of God, and our meaningless thoughts separate us from Them.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.Genesis 3:23,24

The fact is that man exiled himself from the Garden of Eden; man, himself, ate of the tree of knowledge, turning his back on the tree of life. God did not exile him. This is a good thing. Since man, himself, chose to shift his awareness from life to death, he can choose again for life. Since he is solely responsible for death, he is solely responsible for life.

I just love the metaphor Joel Goldsmith uses to express man's life, journeying off the mark.

One mystic described this life as “a parenthesis in eternity.” This life! Observing life objectively and using the circle as symbolic of all life, it is obvious that we have come from the past into a parenthesis in the circle, and when this parenthesis is removed—the one marking birth and the other marking death—we will be on our way into another parenthesis, or what is called the future. This should help us to understand that our present life on earth is only an interval in eternity. (Joel Goldsmith, A Parenthesis in Eternity, HarperOne, New York, 1963, Chapter IX, An Interval in Etrnity, p. 100)

In spite of ourselves, since we are as God created us, we cannot help but know at some level that we are wandering on a journey far from home, and we cannot help but experience from time to time that we are more than what our ego-thoughts are showing us, that there must be more to life than what is in our awareness. We are haunted by the idea that we are more than we seem to be.

This world you seem to live in is not home
to you. And somewhere in your mind you know
that this is true. A memory of home
keeps haunting you, as if there were a place
that called you to return, although you do
not recognize the voice, nor what it is
the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel
an alien here, from somewhere all unknown.
Nothing so definite that you could say
with certainty you are an exile here.
Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not
more than a tiny throb, at other times
hardly remembered, actively dismissed,

but surely to return to mind again.

Here's a depiction of catching a glimpse of home.

This is an attempt to express that our separating thoughts are a very thin veil obscuring the Thoughts of God. We have all had glimpses of Heaven, no matter how the dark boundaries of ego-thoughts tried to prevent our becoming aware of the shining Thoughts of God. We have all, inevitably, experienced this melting into this shining light.

C. Salvation

In the beginning was the Word that I am as God created me. God keeps His promises.

Salvation is a promise, made by God,
that you would find your way to Him at last.
It cannot but be kept. It guarantees
that time will have an end, and all the thoughts
that have been born in time will end as well.
God's Word is given every mind which thinks
that it has separate thoughts, and will replace
these thoughts of conflict with the Thought of peace.
W-pII. 2 What is Salvation? 1

. . . let go the thoughts you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place. . .this can truly be called salvation. (Lesson 14)

This letting go is called forgiveness.

This is salvation’s keynote:

And from forgiving thoughts a gentle world comes forth,

with mercy for the holy Son of God,

to offer him a kindly home where he
can rest a while before he journeys on,
and help his brothers walk ahead with him,
and find the way to Heaven and to God.

My sourceless thought-images that separate me from the awareness of God exist for only one purpose, for giving away.

Forgiveness recognizes what you thought
your brother did to you has not occurred.

It does not pardon sins and make them real.
It sees there was no sin. And in that view
are all your sins forgiven. What is sin,
except a false idea about God's Son?
Forgiveness merely sees its falsity,
and therefore lets it go. What then is free
to take its place is now the Will of God.
W-pII. 1 What is Forgiveness? 1

This is the way to Heaven and to the peace of Easter, in which we join in glad awareness that the Son of God is risen from the past, and has awakened to the present. Now is he free, unlimited in his communion with all that is within him. Now are the lilies of his innocence untouched by guilt, and perfectly protected from the cold chill of fear and withering blight of sin alike.

In our forgiveness is our salvation, as we become aware of our creation as God's most holy Son, joining the household of God in Joel Goldsmith's felicitous phrase.

The household of God is composed not only of people who are here on earth, or of those who have passed: the household of God encompasses the universe. The household of God is embodied in our consciousness, and we are embodied in the consciousness of the household of God.

Those who love God are brought into one household, one family, one companionship, into a sharing with one another; (The Course uses the term,
mighty companions) and just as we are sharing with those coming into the Light, so somebody with an even higher consciousness is sharing with us. (Goldsmith, p. 111)

In the beginning was the Word. . .

And now we experience ourselves, again, as we were at the beginning, an extension of God.

The fact is that we are always only one thought away. When we are aware of peace, we are one thought away from conflict. Awareness of conflict is one thought from peace. Experiencing peace is a holy instant.

The sudden expansion of awareness that takes place with your desire for it is the irresistible appeal the holy instant holds. It calls to you to be yourself, within its safe embrace. There are the laws of limit lifted for you, to welcome you to openness of mind and freedom. Come to this place of refuge, where you can be yourself in peace. Not through destruction, not through a breaking out, but merely by a quiet melting in. For peace will join you there, simply because you have been willing to let go the limits you have placed upon love, and joined it where it is and where it led you, in answer to its gentle call to be at peace.

. . . a quiet melting in as the imaginary boundaries collapse.

And now we end where we began with Creation, the Father and the Son linked eternally by prayer.

Prayer is the greatest gift with which God blessed His Son at his creation. It was then what it is to become; the single voice Creator and creation share; the song the Son sings to the Father, Who returns the thanks it offers Him unto the Son. Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love They give forever to Each Other. And in this, creation is extended. God gives thanks to His extension in His Son. His Son gives thanks for his creation, in the song of his creating in his Father’s Name. The Love They share is what all prayer will be throughout eternity, when time is done. For such it was before time seemed to be.
Song of Prayer, Introduction. 1

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